IT HAS been a fixture in Horndean for the last 160 years.
But most of Gales Brewery will be demolished within the next few weeks to make way for a multi-million pound development.
The iconic brewery tower will remain, but the rest of the four-and-a-half acre site will be transformed by developer Linden Homes.
The company has started work on the site this week as it prepares to build 73 new homes, a doctors’ surgery, a care home, a shop and offices.
This week building surveys are being done.
Contractors are also digging trenches to start an archaeological assessment.
Developers are required to do this on any historic site before building begins.
Villagers welcomed the work as the building has been in a sorry state since 2006 when it was vacated following the takeover of Gales by Fuller’s.
Horndean councillor Sara Schillemore said: ‘I am really pleased to see something happening.
‘It has been such an eyesore and been in such disrepair for so long.’
As reported, Burton Property pulled out as the lead developer earlier this year.
But in May a deal was signed with Linden Homes, which will use the plans that have already been approved by East Hampshire District Council.
Council leader Ken Moon said: ‘This local landmark has been empty and boarded up for some time now. It’s good to see the partnership working, with the local authority, Burton Property and Linden Homes moving this project forward.’
Matt Paine, managing director of Linden Homes Southern, added: ‘We are delighted to now be in a position to progress the development of this site, which will play a key role in the regeneration of Horndean.
‘We recognise the importance of this project locally and will look to build upon the efforts of Burton Property, with whom we will be working closely throughout the project in order to maintain the close working relationships established with the community.
‘We will ensure that residents are informed ahead of any significant activity taking place on-site.’
PART OF VILLAGE LIFE FOR SO LONG
THE bulldozing of the brewery will mark the end of an era in Horndean.
The business was started by Richard Gale, who came from a grocer and baker family and acquired the Ship & Bell Inn in 1847.
By 1853, Richard’s son George Alexander Gale was running the premises and expanded the small brewery on site.
A fire destroyed the first brewery and a new plant was built, the remains of which are still there today.
In 1888 the company was registered and in 1959 Horndean Special Bitter was launched.
Fuller’s bought the building for £92m in 2005 and shifted production of beers to its base in Chiswick.
Brewing equipment was sold to the new Isle of Arran Brewery in Scotland.